Horse Mask: Four Bears
2020 original contemporary Native American art by Evans Flammond Sr.
~ Horse Mask: Four Bears ~
The piece is one of several superb recent works that represent rebirth and growth for the artist personally and artistically in the new decade and following a period of mourning, retrospection and preparation.
While Flammond Sr has created several Horse Masks, few have included the decorated horse skull. The mask itself is flat but takes on the shape of a horse's head when draped over the skull. The decorated skull on the painted stand is a work of art on its own and looks great with the mask hung behind or above. Together they form one impressively cohesive and sizeable work.
Using earth paint, the artist employs a striking combination of black, ochre, pipestone red and a standout blue, so very expertly executed on the leather. Application of the earth paint requires skill and patience.
Speaking on his inspiration for the piece, Flammond says, “Traditionally, the bear represents strength and wisdom. Bears are good hunters because they are smart. If you were walking through the deep forest, a bear knows how to make you think they’re in front of you and then sneak up behind you. The pony is also a hunter because he helps us hunt. The bear paws on this mask give the horse the energy or spirit of the bear, wisdom and courage for the hunt, like a badge for the horse.”
Flammond points out two things about the red circles around the eyes, both on the mask and the skull: The red circles give the horse good vision and represent encampments, with the brass buttons representing the doorways of the encircled tipis. The geometric blue and ocre borders represent the Black Hills, with the brass buttons also representing doorways here, caves in the Hills perhaps, bear dwellings. Bear claws executed in a parfleche design highlight both sides of the mask, with another bear claw on a separate leather binding for the feathers on the top and again on the top of the skull: Four total.
The decorated stand also features a parfleche design representing the Black Hills. Blue dots on the stand and skull represent hail. Of the significance of the hail, Flammond says, “We now know how hail forms, but long ago, Natives would see the tremendous destruction caused by hail without knowing where it came from or why it was happening. So hail is represented on the mask to give the horse the powerful ability to destroy everything in its way, like the hail. Hail stones are traditionally shown on horse’s hind quarters or on shields to give it that medicine, an ability to take a beating, stealing the energy of the hail in a way.”
The Black Hills design is again represented on the skull, this time in black. The black main color of the mask and on the skull is an attractive and powerful choice by the artist.
Flammond emphasizes the newness of the mask, and that for this contemporary piece he chose to polish the buffalo horns and to not to apply aging, as is often done. “All traditional Native art was once new; why not make something new?”
Earth paint on cow hide with beaded leather tassels, quail feathers, brain tanned leather stitching, trade wool binding, brass bells, buttons and jingles, buffalo horn, rare mustard-colored vintage Italian glass Crow beads, glass Crow beads and dyed domestic turkey feathers.
Seven Fires is very pleased to offer this very special piece by one of the most versatile and talented Native American artists working today. Impressive in home or office, unique, important, history in the making.
A portfolio of work by Flammond can be viewed at